Starting Monday, public spaces in the city will be out of bounds for illegal road-side vendors and bunk shops. Illegal hoardings and flex boards too will be pulled down. The joint eviction drive by the Kochi Corporation and the police follows rampant encroachments into footpaths and even tarred roads. The encroachments have been posing serious problems, obstructing traffic and causing accidents.
The drive is seen as a prelude to a larger anti-encroachment drive, wherein shops and other establishments that intrude into public spaces will have to redraw their boundaries.
As per plan, vendors will be evicted and hoardings cleared. The licence of bunk shops occupying an area of over three square metres (2 m by 1.5 m) and deviating from the space allotted by the corporation will be cancelled.
Mayor Tony Chammany said no person who had deviated from civic norms would be spared. Motorists and pedestrians are having a hard time negotiating through obstacles posed by vendors and others.
The civic agency was of late flooded with complaints from members of the public, following which its steering committee decided to act.
“Encroachments along footpaths and road shoulders force pedestrians to walk on the tarred road, where they are at the mercy of motorists,” said K. S. Baby Vinod, Assistant Commissioner of Police (City Traffic). With the problem turning acute, traffic police had to dislodge many vendors from Vyttila, Palarivattom and Kaloor, he said. “We need a permanent squad to keep a tab of encroachers since they return within weeks of being evicted,” Mr. Vinod said, while extending support to the corporation’s eviction drive.
Vendors and bunk shop owners draw strength from trade unions and enjoy regional-level political support. “They are asserting their non-existent rights, while denying the legal rights of road users,” said an official of the Town Planning wing.
The encroachments and illegal parking of vehicles have also resulted in city roads being choked with vehicles.
A town planner said an organised mafia, eyeing high returns at a minimal investment, controlled most vendors in the city.